In Julie Kagawa's debut novel, she introduces readers to a world where faeries are created through imagination and creative efforts of the "real" world. Megan Chase, our main character, discovers on her 16th birthday that there is a whole other realm that exists when her brother is kidnapped and traded for a changeling. Megan enters the world of faery politics should had never dreamed of, becoming the pawn of the courts and wanted by a power neither know exist.
When I first started reading YA fantasy, I'll be the first to admit that I had no interest in reading books about faeries. I read mostly about vampires, stemming from a couple of decent encounters with adult vampire series. I started with Twilight while I was student teaching, simply to get into the heads of the plethora of students I had reading the books. I wasn't overly enamored with the series, but I'll admit that I didn't have the violent negative reactions many adult readers had to the series. But I digress. So, faeries. I picked up Need by Carrie Jones as my first diversion into the realm of the fey (pixies, to be exact). I wasn't overly impressed. My second attempt was Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr and after that I was hooked. But, again, this review is not about that. This is about the splendid world created in The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.
This book promised adventure, and I felt that it delivered on that promise. Kagawa's knowledge of faery lore and etiquette clearly exceeds my own, but I felt that those familiar with such topics wouldn't be disappointed. She pulls from the realms of well established characters, such as Queen Mab and Robin Goodfellow (aka Puck) and weaves the characters with a modern day coming of age story of a half-blood faery.
I very much enjoyed the Megan's character. She was a strong-willed female who persevered through many trials along the journey to save her brother. Every once in awhile I would cringe when she would start making deals left and right with faeries, something the reader learns fairly early on is not always the best idea. On the whole, I thought she was a strong, possibly slightly underdeveloped, character. Kagawa also gives her readers the classic good guy vs. bad boy dilemma from the start, with Puck and Ash. Puck is Megan's long-time best friend and servant of the king (her father), while Ash is the prince of the other court (technically her enemy). You gets hints throughout of Puck's feelings for Megan and in the end, there are most definitely sparks flying between Megan and Ash. Only time (and the rest of the series) will tell which "team" readers, and ultimately Megan, choose.